A group of Senate Republicans have allied with Democrats in demanding President Joe Biden import more foreign workers.
In a letter dated February 9, 17 Republican Senators signed their names beside 17 Democrats, urging “that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), in consultation with the Department of Labor (DOL), utilize the authority provided by Congress to release the maximum allowable number of additional H-2B visas,” for the Fiscal Year.
Writing on behalf of their respective states’ seasonal businesses, the bipartisan group of legislators added, “Without meaningful H-2B cap relief, many seasonal businesses will be forced to scale back operations, cancel or default on contracts, lay off full-time U.S. workers and, in some cases, close operations completely.”
This letter comes at a time when the nation is facing the highest inflation in 40 years and with more than 12 million American unemployed workers, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics February 4 report.
The more than 12 million number is derived from counting the 6.5 million unemployed Americans and 5.7 million who’ve stopped looking for work and does not account for the 3.7 million Americans who are underemployed.
While the letter cites five years of congressional precedent and language in the Continuing Resolution that authorizes DHS to provide this cap relief, with over 400,000 Americans reporting that the current labor market lacks available jobs, the senators fail to address what, if any, data they have that suggests this move will be a boon to the economy during a continued downward trend.
However, there is evidence that the opposite may be true. The Center for Immigration Studies concluded in 2019 that the H-2B visa program has had a significant impact in lowering American workers’ wages. The study compared the wages of H-2B visa workers with the national average in industries like landscaping, construction, conservation, and fishing and found 21 out of 25 blue-collar employers were able to offer lower wages to foreign workers than Americans.
RJ Hauman, Head of Federal Government Relations and Communications for the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) recently told Breitbart News, “The White House and Congressional Democrats are hell-bent on eliminating any meaningful limits or restrictions on immigration, but Republicans still can’t unify behind doing the opposite.”
“They’re great on the illegal front due to the border crisis,” Hauman went on, “but why not also oppose programs that are rife with abuse, displace American workers, and depress wages? Ignore business reliant on cheap foreign labor and listen to voters – it’s that simple.”
FAIR shared the results of a recent Gallup poll showing that 58 percent of Americans are dissatisfied with the current level of immigration to emphasize their point.
— FAIR (@FAIRImmigration) February 14, 2022
The request from the 34 senators comes following DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas’s decisions from December 2021 and January 2022 to allow an increase of 40,000 H-2B visas.
The 17 Republicans to cosign the letter are:
- John Barrasso (WY)
- Roy Blunt (MO)
- Kevin Cramer (ND)
- Mike Crapo (ID)
- Susan Collins (ME)
- John Cornyn (TX)
- Lindsey Graham (SC)
- Cynthia Lummis (WY)
- Jerry Moran (KS)
- Lisa Murkowski (AK)
- Rand Paul (KY)
- James Risch (ID)
- Mike Rounds (SD)
- Tim Scott (SC)
- John Thune (SD)
- Pat Toomey (PA)
- Roger Wicker (MS)
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